Welcome to the final installment of our “Beginner’s Guide to PR Analytics” blog series. In Part One, we looked at owned media, and Part Two focused on social media. After a short break, this post wraps up the series with a look at earned media.
Admittedly, I’ve saved the most difficult for last. Earned media can be highly impactful, but it is not easy to measure. For one, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting a media placement, but even when you get that placement, it’s going up on a website or other medium that you don’t own. Some outlets are more generous than others with sharing information such as page views for articles, but if you can’t get that, it’s time to get creative.
With that in mind, here are a few avenues we use to better understand the value of our earned media efforts.
One tip is to look for ways to utilize your owned and social media tools to gain earned media insights. Remember how, with Google Analytics, you can see how people are getting to your website? If you get a media placement that links to your company website, dig into that “acquisition” data to see how many of your site visitors have come from that publication.
If the placement doesn’t directly link to your company’s site, be on the lookout for overall traffic increases to your site after earning a placement. While correlation does not equal causation, there’s a good chance those increases are at least partially a result of the placement — perhaps the placement inspired people to Google your company, or check out your social channels, and from there they wen tto your site.
To that end, it also helps to look at some of the social stats we covered in Part Two of this series. You can check your follower numbers to see if there was an increase after your placement hit, and if you posted a link to the placement, you can see how well that post performed.
Looking at the placement itself, many publications will also have social share icons, whereby you can see how many times each article has been shared directly to social media platforms. Those are usually about the only stats you’ll get from the publication itself, but they will at least give you some sense of engagement with the piece.
Are any of these statistics a perfect way for measuring earned media success? Far from it. But in cobbling together data points from these various sources, you can gain some indication of an article’s relative popularity, even if you don’t know exactly how many people read it.
As with social media, you can purchase access to platforms designed to measure earned media. For example, CoverageBook is one platform we’ve used, and it showcases a number of handy metrics for any piece of coverage you input: the online readership for publications you’ve appeared in, the estimated views for each specific piece of coverage, social shares, etc.
We’re also currently using Meltwater. While the platform’s primary selling point is that it provides the ability to look up and research relevant journalists and their contact information (and it is very good for that!), it also includes analytics functionality that shows how many media mentions your clients have received, and the estimated reach of those various placements.
It’s also important to note that earned media consists not only of placements, but press releases as well. We use Business Wire to distribute press releases for our clients, and after each release, they send a full report that includes geographic reach, aggregated data on views and link clicks, social shares, and much more. Given that press releases can be fairly costly, it’s important that they make an impact, and this data is valuable in measuring that impact.
So that wraps it up for this series. We touched on a variety of different tools, but remember that these posts are simply serving as an introduction to the world of PR analytics. Once you get comfortable with these first steps, I encourage you to continue to push yourself, as there is always more to learn in the analytics world. And if you have any questions as you go, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now go out there and dig into that data!